Profit in the money economy is fundamentally exploitative, and therefore fundamentally immoral.
If profit is the incentive for taking financial risk, then why aren't millions of Americans profiting handsomely by the financial risks they were forced to take in the housing and credit markets?
Too great a gap between rich and poor undermines the solidarity that democratic citizenship requires. As inequality deepens, rich and poor live increasingly separate lives. The affluent send their children to private schools (or to public schools, as we call them in the United States) in wealthy suburbs, leaving urban public schools to the children of families who have no alternative. A similar trend leads to the withdrawal by the privileged from other public institutions and facilities. Private health clubs replace municipal recreation centres and swimming pools. Affluent residential communities hire private security guards and rely less on public police protection. A second or third car removes the need to rely on public transportation. And so on.
This trend has two bad effects: one fiscal, the other civic. First, public services deteriorate as those who no longer use them become less willing to support them with their taxes. Second, public institutions such as schools, parks, playgrounds and community centres cease to be places where citizens from different walks of life encounter one another. Institutions that once gathered people together and served as informal schools of civic virtue have become few and far between. The hollowing out of the public realm makes it difficult to cultivate the sense of community that democratic citizenship requires.
So rather than focus on access to private consumption, a politics of the common good would make the case for rebuilding the infrastructure of civic life; public schools to which rich and poor alike would want to send their children; public transportation systems reliable enough to attract commuters from all walks of life; public health clinics, playgrounds, parks, recreation centres, libraries and museums that would, ideally at least, draw people out of their gated communities and into the common spaces of a shared democratic citizenship.
« Older History and Policy... | Ukrainian art is widely varied... Newer »
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments
Buy a Shirt